It’s not me to drag politics in art,
it’s art to drag me into politics ”
VERBAL AND NON-VERBAL ART
The speech of Mark Antony in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is one of the most astounding examples of the use of oratory. Also one of the most illuminating examples of what should be the real purpose of a speech: the control of the interlocutor’s emotions.
For Cicero, the good speaker has “…the acumen of dialectics, the depth of the philosophers, the verbal ability of poets, the memory of jurists, the voice of the tragic, the gesture of the best actors.” (Cicero, De orator, I, 48).
The art in oratory is the art to be able to say everything and its opposite without seeming contradictory. The first goal is to persuade, using well-established rhetorical patterns (which often strive unknowingly), and to bring listeners to a predetermined target. However, being able to speak is fundamental, and the skills to persuade are even more important. Things get more complex nowadays, when the ability to speak well is now called “public speaking” (you can change names and cultural fashions, but the art in oratory was already codified by the “ancient generations”) and politicians rely on managers and preventive meetings with mysterious counsellors of postmodern communication (“spin doctors”) for each of their movements, for each aspect of their image, from verbal to non-verbal communication, even for simple visual communication.
Effective communication is also based on details and precise rules which today we would call verbal, para-verbal (the voice pitch, the tone, etc.) and non-verbal (clothing, looks, the movements, proximity, the ability to break into laughter, seriousness, moods, etc.).
Para-verbal and non-verbal elements are sometimes more important than the verbal message itself. This was understood by modernity and the twentieth century. Odin Teatret is exemplary in this aspect. As example, the pre-expressive phase of the actor’s work, or the concept of energy (and how to bring it up) occupy a central place in the method of Eugenio Barba: when using its plasticity of movement, the body becomes a sculpture of the mind, a work on the soul, in the understanding that, during this process the words are only a metaphor, although a useful one, of what is happening on the real stage. The whole body is directed towards the target set by the performer: the control of the spectator’s emotions.
And so words and body travel together in one direction…
In 2015, after 7 years of frequent visits to Holstebro, I still don’t know exactly which are the external limits of the theatre. It is as if I had been acting unconsciously during all these years, swimming like a fish inside dark waters: the sea is that of Holstebro, a nice little town in the centre of Jutland, internationally best known perhaps for hosting Nordisk Teaterlaboratorium, also known as Odin Teatret, since 1964.
My first experience in getting in contact with the real aspects of the city was performing for Eugenio Barba in “The Marriage of Medea”, along with Julia Varley, Tage Larsen and Augusto Omolú from Odin Teatret, during Festuge 2008.
The performance, built around the wedding involving Jason’s family (interpreted by 40 actors from 22 countries) and Medea’s family (33 Balinese musicians and dancers, and the Brazilian percussionist Cleber da Paixâo) was both an open air event and a performance in traditional and site specific places. The structure of the show was a procession in different cultural and social contexts in Holstebro and its surroundings, developing a net of relationships and exchanges with different communities, citizens, institutions and environments.
From 2009 on, I got involved in a project of community theatre called “Theatre as interference”. Theatre started to be involved in everyday situations and different contexts. The expected “disorder” appeared as a renewal of energy and change of perspectives. These activities needed form one part specific theatrical skills to be included in a performance, but not only: schools, factories, homes for elderly people, offices, craftsmen groups, hospitals, communities and villages were some of the places and organisations with which we established links.
Afterwards, I continued this activity of “theatre as interference” in Holstebro and also abroad.
Since 2010, I decided to follow my own path. In 2010, I founded the performing arts group DOO – Divano Occidentale Orientale, and I have been coordinating several projects in collaboration with Nordisk Teaterlaboratorium, along with Alberto M. Guinaldo, Fabio Pappacena and Linda Sugataghy. In Holstebro, I had the opportunity to hone my skills as an actor, director and playwright, under the supervision of Eugenio Barba and Julia Varley. In Holstebro, I created and produced several shows and performances that were shown in festivals in Europe and America, and even collected some theatre awards. During the festivals Festuge 2011 and Festuge 2014, I was able to get in contact with the Danish reality and to find a loyal audience at a local level. This had a logical continuity with the development of the multimedia project MAREN OG JEG, a road trip movie made travelling around Denmark. I presented performances also in Copenhagen and Aarhus, where I participated in a residency program during last year, at Godsbanen, in the aim of developing “Maren og Jeg”.
On a daily basis, during the festive week, the audience followed the odyssey of its heroine “Maren”, a sculpture created by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti, which became a symbol of the Cultural Revolution in 1966. Next year we will celebrate its 50th anniversary…
But how did I communicate as a “tourist” during these 7 years in Denmark?
I think I have elaborated a strong capacity to listen in order to understand the verbal and non-verbal messages of Danish speakers, through active listening and empathy. Also, it has been mainly through sympathy, in the ancient sense of “sharing the pathos”…
IS ART A POLITICAL FORM?
But now it is time to speak. The time has come to be honest.
The social function of Art should be essentially to restore equality, to rebuild freedom of expression and purity of intentions. So could Art be considered as a Political form?
Every artistic and aesthetic experience is therefore “political,” as “partition of the sensible”. On the other hand, “political” also means the “configuration of a specific space, the distribution of a particular sphere of experience” (Rancière). The question of the relationship between aesthetics and time is essential: in fact, the political act happens when those who don’t have time, they take it….
I will dedicate one year and half of my life to Danes and No Danes, Artists and Citizens, Residents and Immigrants. I will take this time to show something that We have in common…